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Thread: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

  1. #1

    Default Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Hi all – here’s my review of the new Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack. This bag has been my EDC for almost two months now, taking over from my Maxpedition Falcon backpack, and from my Maxpedition FatBoy versipack.

    I’ve reviewed and discussed both of those bags at nauseating length in these threads, if you’re inclined to learn more about them.

    Falcon and Pygmy Falcon Review
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ubb...;Number=581893

    FatBoy, Proteus and CountyComm BOB Review
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ubb...;Number=490115

    Ok, so I’ve still got the same needs I had two years ago when I started my Manpurse Quest.

    I’ve got more stuff that I like to have readily available than will fit in my pockets comfortably, I really like to feel ‘unburdened’, but about 1/3 of the time, I need to carry my laptop around, and at least 4 days a week, I walk or bike a little over a mile to work, regardless of weather, so I need a comfortable, secure and weather-resistant way to carry stuff.

    Background
    In the interest of full disclosure, I need to mention that I’m now a Maxpedition dealer. For the record, though I’m a dealer, I paid full price from my own pocket for this bag, so that I can continue to review from the buyer’s perspective, just as I did before my travel agency started selling the Maxpedition line. You can check out our Maxpedition store at http://www.travelmeet.com/maxstore/travelstore.html

    If you’ve read the threads above, you know about my failed attempts with the Maxpedition Proteus (too small), and the CountyComm Bail-out Bag (too big, sloppy to carry), and my successful attempts with Maxpedition’s FatBoy (perfect for when I don’t have the laptop) and the Falcon (perfect when I do have the laptop).

    However, I still had the problem that every time I needed to carry the laptop, I was switching too much of my EDC stuff back and forth between FatBoy and Falcon, or I was taking the relatively large Falcon everywhere, even if I had nothing in the main compartments, which is pretty silly.

    I’m clearly not unique here – it seems like the number one request I see on the boards for Maxpedition is a somewhat larger FatBoy, and the interest in the mid-size DevilDog and prototype Jumbo FatBoy, Monsoon and Typhoon versipacks and backpacks seems to indicate that there’s a substantial market for mid-size carry bags.

    Overview
    After a nearly interminable wait from the January announcement of the DevilDog until it got into my hands in late April. The idea of the DevilDog is outstanding – a mid-size carry bag, able to be carried by a top handle, on a shoulder strap, or as a waistpack. Like the earlier and smaller Proteus Versipack, the waist strap of the DevilDog tucks cleverly away into a rear pocket, getting it out of the way when carried in either of the other two modes. Construction is Maxpedition’s usual robust build, though the plastic snaps and hinges for the shoulder strap aren’t especially confidence-inspiring. I’d really rather see metal for these critical pieces.


    The number one question about any Maxpedition item seems to be ‘how big is it?’, in part because Maxpedition’s photo model seems to be a gentleman of small stature, so the bags look really big in the photos, and often much smaller in real life. Here’s a couple photos of the DevilDog next to my keys, and a Surefire L4.




    While it’s tempting to compare the DevilDog to the FatBoy, it’s really more of a cross between the Proteus versipack and a Pygmy Falcon backpack. If you’ve looked at the Pygmy Falcon, the Devildog is much like 1/2 of that pack, with mesh holders on the sides, one main interior pocket, and an small external pocket for quick access. Then add on the Proteus’ waistpack, top carry handle, dual-buckle compression system, and you’ve got the Devildog.

    Here’s the external pocket of my Devildog – holds my wallet, an ARC LSH-P with twisty, a USB key drive, and some business cards. Probably room for my keys in there also. There’s no organizer system, just an interior flat mesh pocket to hold a couple items apart from the jumble in the pocket.



    Like the Proteus, you really have to open both main buckles to access the external pocket of the Devildog – while I’ve gotten used to it, it does slow things down a bit. It is an option to leave the buckles loose, but then the bag get more ‘slumpy, ‘ so I usually buckle them.

    I’m a huge fan of the pen holders on either side of the external pocket – great to have pens readily accessible, and they’re a good size match for this bag, unlike on the M-2 waistpack, or the Proteus, where the pens tend to extend beyond the outlines of the bag.

    The main compartment of the DevilDog is great – a mesh divider at the back has an extremely robust nylon upper edge, perfect for clipping lights, pens, knives, etc., as shown here:




    I usually keep my L4, a couple sharpies, and a small knife clipped here, and my Doug Ritter mini-survival kit, some sunscreen and a roll of dental floss at the bottom of the pouch. This photo also gives a nice view of my CP-M cellphone holder with my Motorola RAZR V3 in it, attached to the hardpoint on the water bottle holder.

    There’s also a nylon divider on the front side, with two pouches sewn in – my largish Sony NR-70 PDA goes in one, and my iPod mini in the other. Nothing really lives behind the divider yet. Since I don’t usually keep the bag full, I notice that stuff sometimes comes out from behind the dividers if I’ve turned the bag upside down – a minor thing, but it’s annoying.

    My small first-aid kit in a Spec-Ops Pocket Organizer lives at the bottom of the main compartment, and there’s plenty of space left for a denim shirt, windbreaker, rain shell, gloves, hat or…



    …my laptop. I was amazed to discover that I can (just barely) fit my little Apple Powerbook G4 12” into the main compartment. It’s a tight fit, as the opening is considerably smaller than the maximum size object that fits, but it does go in perfectly if you go one corner at a time, Nothing at all larger will fit – the laptop won’t go in if I have it in a thin neoprene sleeve, for example.

    In a major upgrade from other small bags and waistpacks, an 8.5x11” notepad or spiral notebook will fit. Most 3-ring or other binders that are larger than the paper itself will not, but the ability to carry paper at all is a big step up. I also find I regularly will roll up a brochure and stuff it in one of the side mesh pouches.

    The mesh pouches on the side are substantially improved from earlier Maxpedition mesh – the closures at the top now feature shock cord, so they cinch up nicely, and the nylon reinforcing strip has been moved from the top a bit, also improving closure. They fit a Nalgene 1L bottle comfortably, though the bag gets heavy quickly, especially with two 1L bottles.

    I actually like the Fatboy’s combination of internal and external pockets better – it’s the best-organized bag I’ve ever had, with everything sized for one or two items per pocket, so I always know where things are. The Devildog is both bigger, and more loosely organized, so that you can fit more different things, but not in quite such an orderly fashion.

    One ‘issue’ with the DevilDog is that it’s more than big enough to make it an uncomfortable carry if you load it heavily. I put my laptop (5lbs), and 2 1L Nalgene bottles in it, along with my EDC, bringing total weight into the 10lb+ range, and it got a bit uncomfortable to carry – that’s a load that really could use a backpack.

    Which brings us to carrying the bag. I vastly prefer a cross-body carry, which is one of the things I loved about the FatBoy. However, the Fatboy only rides comfortably in one or two positions, neither of which I like for biking or a long walk. I really prefer to shove the bag around so it’s actually riding right on the small of my back or my belt, so it’s out of the way, and not unbalanced. Due to the FatBoy’s asymmetrical shape (or perhaps my well-curved figure), it won’t ride like that.

    The Devildog rides wonderfully in that position – it’s great, and I EDC it on the shoulderstrap like that. The plastic strap hinges were squeaky until I put some silicone grease on them – much better now.

    As just a waistpack, the Devildog is a little so-so – the strap is placed low on the bag, which means that if you have much weight in the top of the bag, it tends to tilt out a bit, twisting the bag – if you have the belt cinched tight, it’s not bad, but if you tend to wear the waistbelt loose, it’s not so great.

    The couple times I’ve walked to and from work with the laptop, gear and a water bottle, it was too heavy for either the shoulder strap or the waistbelt alone – wearing the waistbelt to take off the weight, and the shoulder strap crossbody to stabilize worked very well – though it took a bit of fiddling to find the right length for the shoulder strap to distribute weight correctly.

    Finally, I’ll mention that the DevilDog has tons of attachment points for any kind of accessory – you need to be a little careful, though, as most of them are set up as part of the waistbelt system, and if you’re not using the waistbelt, heavy attachments can be a bit floppy. I have a Keyper key clip and a CP-M cellphone sheath on it. I was carrying an M-1 waistpack on it as well for a few days, and it worked well, but I decided I didn’t really need the extra space – the DevilDog had plenty of internal room for those items.

    The bottom line – a highly versatile pack, great size for carrying more. Not as ‘slick’ or easy-to-use as the FatBoy, but able to do more. Easy to overload if you’re carrying dense items like electronics.

    I now EDC it, and have only moved back to the Falcon backpack one day, when I was overnighting, and needed a change of clothes and some other larger stuff.

    At $83.99 it’s a little pricy, but given the complexity of the bag, I don’t know how you’d make it cheaper without removing features. Not an impulse buy, but if it meets your needs, it’s worth every penny.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Wow--another great review, Deanster! Thanks much for taking the time to do this. Oh, the agony of decision! I just read your coverage of the MPB, and it looks tempting again too. Good thing for me right now that I've spent this month's "allowance"... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Dean, great review (as per usual).
    Could you add a photo or two of it being carried/how it hangs vs. a Fatboy? Also, perhaps a side-by-side with a Fatboy, for sizing reference?
    And then (to get real ambitious) - a side-by-side of all your bags next to each other?
    Gee, you do a ton of work and someone comes along with a suggestion for a ton more for you.
    Seriously though, your reviews are always really well thought out and appreciated.
    Cheers
    Dave

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    i have a devildog too, just thought id add some of my views.

    the quality and construction of the bag is fantastic, i have no doubt as to its durability. my problem with the devildog are more with its 'concept' as a bag.

    most of the bags in maxpeditions line (fatboy, thermite etc) have a distinct role and function to serve, where as the dd tries to be all things, which leads to compromise.

    1) one of the dd's strengths is also its big weakness: its size

    2) it is large enough to tempt you into stuffing in all the gear that you would normally put in a backpack. and does become unwieldly. it will tilt away from your body when loaded, and looks slightly odd as a waist pack bcoz of its size.

    3) i dont really fancy using the shoulder strap either. the dd IS big. and the clip-on straps do not offer the same 'structure' as do the integrated straps on the fatboy. so as a result the dd does tend to swing around alot compared to the fb.

    what i would REALLY love to see is a smaller dd style waistpack, ergonomically designed, not like the proteus which is like a 'box' with a strap, with attachment points on the web belt to attach sheaths etc.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Thanks guys!

    I'll see if I can get some comparative photos taken today.

    I'd actually agree with all of Dandruff's comments, though from a somewhat different point of view.

    The DevilDog, and indeed the entire mid-size bag category, is by definition a compromise between a larger backpack or duffel bag, and the smaller 'man-purse'/fannypack choices. Additionally, the 'versipack' concept does involve a number of compromises to allow several different styles of carry.

    The question, at least in my mind, is whether the final package is a 'Leatherman', or a 'spork'. My Leatherman Wave is a set of massive compromises to get a bunch of disparate items into one small package. It's a wildly inefficient screwdriver. It's a lousy knife. It's a marginal scissors. However, it's all of those things at once in my pocket, does fine for performing 1000 different minor tasks and I love it.

    On the other hand, my spork (titanium, of course), doesn't really spear food like a fork, and can't really scoop food like a spoon, while saving relatively little space over a proper fork and spoon. While it's marginally better than nothing, it's a wildly inefficient eating tool in any way you care to define it. I'd be much better off just using a fork and spoon.

    For me, the DevilDog is a 'Leatherman' - I've tried switching between Falcon and Fatboy, and while each is inarguably better for its own tasks, the overhead of switching and having both available when I need 'em is too high. The Devildog is an oversized, floppy FatBoy, and a too-small, hard-to-carry Falcon, but I'm more than happy to accept those limits in exchange for carrying one bag 99% of the time.

    Some will choose to carry around a tool chest, others will happily leave home with only a spork, and I'd never fault anyone for choosing to do so. I'm carrying the Leatherman and Devildog, and I'm pretty happy with it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Thanks for the great, extensive review.

    [ QUOTE ]
    Deanster said:
    Like the Proteus, you really have to open both main buckles to access the external pocket of the Devildog – while I’ve gotten used to it, it does slow things down a bit. It is an option to leave the buckles loose, but then the bag get more ‘slumpy, ‘ so I usually buckle them.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    And, with one fell swoop of horrendous engineering, that makes this product a no-go for me. I've been using Maxpedition and other tactical style packs and baags, and "getting used to" all the inconvenient features. More recently, I've gone back to well-done sporting-style bags, and found that I didn't have to get used to anything. To get into your main pocket, you have to undo two clips, a zipper, and whatever else is inside. For anyone who is in and out of their bag often -- which I'd venture to guess is most people who carry these bags -- tolerating this bad design feature is an awful lot to ask, regardless of how strong the other features are, IMO. And the rest of the features do look great, which makes things all the more frustrating.

    [ QUOTE ]

    Which brings us to carrying the bag. I vastly prefer a cross-body carry, which is one of the things I loved about the FatBoy. However, the Fatboy only rides comfortably in one or two positions, neither of which I like for biking or a long walk. I really prefer to shove the bag around so it’s actually riding right on the small of my back or my belt, so it’s out of the way, and not unbalanced. Due to the FatBoy’s asymmetrical shape (or perhaps my well-curved figure), it won’t ride like that.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Ya, that's one of the reasons I eventually ditched my Fatboy in favor of a bag of similar size, but from a more sport-oriented company. My new bag looks sportier and less man-pursey, and stays put right in the middle of my back. AGain, I wonder what Maxpedition is thinking, designing a pack like the Fatboy with otherwise strong design, but that doesn't ride in the best position for these types of packs. Sigh.

    [ QUOTE ]

    Finally, I’ll mention that the DevilDog has tons of attachment points for any kind of accessory – you need to be a little careful, though, as most of them are set up as part of the waistbelt system, and if you’re not using the waistbelt, heavy attachments can be a bit floppy. I have a Keyper key clip and a CP-M cellphone sheath on it. I was carrying an M-1 waistpack on it as well for a few days, and it worked well, but I decided I didn’t really need the extra space – the DevilDog had plenty of internal room for those items.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    That's one of the main reasons I keep looking at Maxpedition products, even though there seems to be at least one major design flaw (my opinion, of course) in many of their products. I love the modularity. If one of these sporting companies would put PALS webbing instead of daisy chain loops on their packs, I'd be in heaven. Or alternatively, if Max would concentrate on having their cross-body packs ride correctly and have the pockets be easy and convenient to get into, that'd be perfect.


    Joe

  7. #7

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Joe, what kind of bag do you have? Can you post some pics of it being carried? I'd like to compare it eventually with Deanster's pics of carrying the DD. Thanks.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    WEll, the first thing to note is that the bag I mention isn't comparable to the DD; I was talking about the Fatboy when I mentioned the replacement. Like the DD and many other Max products, IMO, the Fatboy is superbly built and well-designed for some features, but has a flaw on one or more really major features. When it comes to the DevilDog, I don't know what might be comparable to it. Certainly, the number of carry modes the Devildog has, combined with the modularity, probably means nothing is quite comparable to the DD's features, which makes the problems all the more frustrating.

    The biggest problem I had with the Fatboy was how it carried. It seemed to carry weight away from the body. In addition, it just loves swinging around anytime you move. Max has noticed this problem as well, and put in a workaround of a little tail that lets you attach the pack to your belt loop, so now you have the problem that when you do want to move the bag around to the front, it's attached. How the bag lies is one of the key features of a shoulder bag; unbelieveable to me Max wouldn't have designed this feature right from the get-go. I had a few other problems with the Fatboy as well, which I got tired of "getting used to".

    So, I got this pack at REI. If it shows up in grey and red, click on icon below to change it to all-black. This pack holds a bit more than the Fatboy. It stays in the small of your back, period, tight and close. Access to any pocket is through a zipper, you never have to go through a clip or a clip & a zipper (ala the FB). Some of the other organization features have made it a real winner for me. The look is way sportier than the Fatboy and the bag attracts way less attention and comments.

    One huge problem this pack shares with the Fatboy: no elastic water bottle pocket! The fatboy is modular, so you can add a mini roly poly for a water bottle, which is a poor solution that makes the bag even clunkier, but hell, at least it's a solution! With the REI Mini, it's not modular and you can't add on a water bottle carrier ... which means sooner or later I'll be on the lookout for another sporting-type bag, but with an elastic pocket.

    Joe

  9. #9

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Joe...do you remember the name of the bag? REI's website is down and the link didnt work, so I was going to drop by my local store and see if they had it.

    Dean...any luck posting pics of the way its carried? I'm interested in seeing it fully loaded with water bottles and such and see it carried cross body with waist belt.

    I've been usin the proteus i got from you awhile back to replace the fatboy...i needed the extra room. however, the carry is kind of awkward. I dont really use it as a butt pack...i tried wearing it corss body but the strap is too small to go across my chest, and carrying it by the handle only adds to the 'murse' image.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    LIght: It's the REI Mini. I tested the link just after I posted to make sure it worked, so I'm sure once the site is up again you'll be good to go. If you go to REI, do weigh down the pack a little bit, then get a feeling for how it lies, and the difference in look

    Joe

  11. #11

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    I received my DevilDog yesterday from Deanster's company (great turn-around and fast shipping!), and after a heart-to-heart with my sweetie over busting my allowance again (on bags, again), I gave it a quick whirl today. Deanster's really spot-on again. With the belt low on the bag, it does tend to hang out from the top when loaded--makes it somewhat uncomfortable to use with just the belt alone (I'm still trying the combo of belt and shoulder strap). It may be a great grab 'n' go bag--I'll have to spend more time with that. I wish the internal dimensions were maybe half an inch or so bigger in each direction--like Deanster said, yeah, it can technically hold a 8.5" by 11" item (magazine, etc.), but it's really too tight--you're going to get some flex. It's great, though, for books, be they paper backs or larger books.

    Just like he said in my earlier thread (http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ubb...65&fpart=1), it really doesn't work well with an M5 strapped on it (let alone my Proteus)--again, it makes it hang poorly, either from the belt or handle.

    So, I don't know yet if I've found my "perfect" EDC bag, but I'm definitely going to give the DD a more extended try.

    I also got an MPB (which I've been salivating after for months now), and I'm not so sure on that one--it's not what I imagined, but I've got to play around with it a lot more.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    I received my DevilDog yesterday from Deanster's company (great turn-around and fast shipping!), and after a heart-to-heart with my sweetie over busting my allowance again (on bags, again), I gave it a quick whirl today. Deanster's really spot-on again. With the belt low on the bag, it does tend to hang out from the top when loaded--makes it somewhat uncomfortable to use with just the belt alone (I'm still trying the combo of belt and shoulder strap). It may be a great grab 'n' go bag--I'll have to spend more time with that. I wish the internal dimensions were maybe half an inch or so bigger in each direction--like Deanster said, yeah, it can technically hold a 8.5" by 11" item (magazine, etc.), but it's really too tight--you're going to get some flex. It's great, though, for books, be they paper backs or larger books.

    Just like he said in my earlier thread (http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ubb...65&fpart=1), it really doesn't work well with an M5 strapped on it (let alone my Proteus)--again, it makes it hang poorly, either from the belt or handle.

    So, I don't know yet if I've found my "perfect" EDC bag, but I'm definitely going to give the DD a more extended try.

    I also got an MPB (which I've been salivating after for months now), and I'm not so sure on that one--it's not what I imagined, but I've got to play around with it a lot more.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Dean,

    Now that you are a dealer, what is the word on the bags that Maxpedition showed at the (was it SHOT) show? Weren't they supposed to be out shortly?

    J

  14. #14

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Just visiting Maxpedition's site, and they've added a new section to their online catalog labeled "Gearslingers", and say "'05 fall release!" I don't get anywhere when I click on the link, though, so it could be that they are updating the site right now.

    [Edit]

    Okay, through playing around with the URLs some I found that there is a page up, but it's empty as I type this:

    http://www.maxpedition.com/product/c...earslinger.htm

    You (again, as I type this) can't get to this page from the main catalog page--you have to enter the specific URL.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Whups--now the page says "05 winter release"... rats! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  16. #16

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    I asked a couple weeks ago about the Typhoon/Monsoon packs, and Maxpedition could only say 'Fall'. Given the website says 'winter', I'd go with 'winter'...

  17. #17

    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    I spent much of the week trying out my DevilDog. One thing I'll give this bag--it's got, well, personality--it's actually kind of... friendly! (Never thought I'd anthropomorphize a bag!) I'd have it siting in a chair next to my desk, and I could just reach over and grab something out of it when I needed it. As I mentioned above, it wasn't super comfortable for me as a lumbar pack, but I just used it as a grab and go bag, and for that it was nearly perfect. I alternated between having my M5 on it and not--mostly I didn't really need it, and as Deanster mentioned elsewhere it could be floppy (I almost wish one of the bottle holders was replaced with a more solid set of attachment points). The big problem is that I found myself having to carry a few extra books by hand (I'm taking an online course, so drag them between work and home so I can work over lunch), and when I pulled out an Eddie Bauer sling bag, I found I could carry it all in the one bag (see http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ubb...65&fpart=1 for a discussion of this).

    But I thought I'd post some size comparison shots here. I'm 6'1" (when I take a deep breath and don't slouch!), about 240 lbs, so these should give you an idea of the size. You can also see my M5 attached to the side in two of these shots:



    Here, obviously, is a side shot--more belly than bag in this picture! One thing you can't really tell is that, as Deanster mentioned, the bag tilts out at the top a tad--it doesn't feel totally snug against my lower back. (Attached to the points on the front of the bag are a cell phone holster and a Maglight holster holding two harmonicas.)



    And here it is from the front (err, rear?). As you can see, the M5 really "schlumps" down (it's got a calculator, a PDA/GPS, a small note pad, my clip-on sunglass case, and, I think, my Kestrel hand-held weather station in it). I really don't need the M5 to hold the stuff mentioned--it would all fit in just the Devil Dog--but I like the M5 so much! Perhaps, as Deanster suggested to me, an M1 would be a better fit, though, with the Devil Dog.



    And this shows the load in the bag, along with the bag (minus the M5).

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Review: Maxpedition DevilDog Versipack -(long)

    Thanks Deanster for the great review! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/happy14.gif[/img]

    Thanks also to Joe.

    I've been looking at the Maxpedition web site and lusting over the bags. Try as I might, I just can't see using them for my every day urban setting. I'll take a look at the REI for that.

    But that doesn't mean I don't want a Maxpedition too. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] I have a collection of bags from full-size backpacks to waist-packs but none that fit the niche of a rugged smaller bag like the Maxpeditions do.

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